With Nigeria’s current economic challenges, exacerbated by fallen oil prices, the government is seeking to enforce taxation as a sure means of raising funds to support development. The Federal Inland Revenue Service is enforcing compliance by shutting down companies for tax avoidance and issuing ultimatums, among other activities. Truly, every country worth its salt has made it so, partly because of a functional tax regime, and Nigeria has all it takes to be on the list of developed countries. In the recent past, the guaranteed oil revenue and the petroleum product tax derived therein have made government generally laid-back in enforcing tax compliance. On the flip side, the ‘ready’ money also made it difficult for the people to hold government accountable because they have not been making direct contributions to the common purse. To pay or not to pay? This question is generally absurd, but perhaps, a forgivable enquiry in Nigeria’s taxation narrative. Tax is compulsory. Yet, it is a social contract with obligations, as well as responsibilities. Citizens are bound to pay taxes in exchange for the provision of social amenities that support living and enabling prosperity. However, in a country of about 180 million – mostly very poor people, struggling with an epileptic 3,000 Megawatts of electricity and living in a common space that is in a state of disrepair, taxation appears baseless. Why pay to a common purse when individuals and enterprises still play the roles of government – generating their own power, sinking personal boreholes to guarantee water supply, commuting with difficulty, paying unbelievable fees to privately school their children and making money contributions to fix their roads and their lives? The organisers hope that the media picks up the debate stimulated and probe further towards engendering a functional and just tax system that benefits the mass of the people. Sonny Okosun’s lyrical question comes to mind… “Which way Nigeria? Which way to go?” It is also critical to interrogate the value of communication generally, as well as the role the media, in particular, is charting a way forward for the country. Speakers lined up for the 2016 Wole Soyinka Media Lecture Series, scheduled for Wednesday July 13 at NECA Hall, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, in commemoration of Wole Soyinka’s 82nd birthday, are experts picked from various stakeholder groups to expound the conversation on Nigeria’s tax question. Adebimpe Balogun, the first female President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), will lead the pack. Discussing alongside Balogun will be Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani), Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); Modupe Oyekunle, President of NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW); Simon Kolawole, Publisher of The Cable newspaper, Emuesiri Agbeyi, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Deremi Atanda, Director of Systemspecs. Opeyemi Agbaje, Managing Director of Resources and Trust Company will moderate the event. Tunde Fowler, the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has also confirmed the agency’s participation. The organisers hope that the media picks up the debate stimulated and probe further towards engendering a functional and just tax system that benefits the mass of the people. Motunrayo Famuyiwa-Alaka is Coordinator of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism.]]>

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